Northport Police Sergeant William Ricca recently inspired the creation of new legislation that would make killing a police dog a felony.
Currently, it is only a misdemeanor to kill a police animal in New York, but a class E felony to kill a service animal. Sergeant Ricca pointed this discrepancy out to Assemb. Andrew Raia, R-East Northport, following the shooting death of an FBI dog in Herkimer, N.Y., last week.
As a result, Raia joined with other representatives to present a bill on March 19 that would increase the penalty for killing a police dog to a class D felony.
“What police animals do for us every day is to be commended and honored," said Raia. "They protect citizens of the community as well as their human police partners. These animals put their lives on the line for the protection of others and the repercussions for injuring or killing one of these brave animals should be more severe than the current law dictates."
Sergeant Ricca knows the dedication of police dogs, and the pain of losing one, first hand. In the late 1980s, his own police dog, Sparky, died as a result of injuries sustained in the line of duty.
Sparky had found and subdued four suspects following a robbery in Brooklyn in 1988. While trying to flee, the men punched and kicked Sparky, causing a broken rib to puncture his liver. Sparky had emergency surgery, but never fully recovered and later complications meant he had to be put down.
"You get very close to the dogs," said Ricca. "You take them home every day."
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